Name: Nigel Northridge
Was: CEO of Gallaher Group
Now: Chairman of Debenhams

Career background: Northridge enjoyed a 32-year career with the Gallaher Group, working in both sales and marketing roles before being appointed as group CEO in 2000, a position he held for seven years. He has previously worked as a senior independent non-executive director of Aggreko, and been a non-exec at Thomas Cook Group.

What is he doing now? He joined the board of Debenhams on 1 January 2010 and was appointed chairman three months later. Elsewhere, Northridge is chairman of Paddy Power, the international Irish-based betting and gaming group - a position he has occupied since January 2009 - and a non-executive director on the boards of Inchcape and the Professional Golf Association European Tour. Golf is one of Northridge’s great passions - at Gallaher, he presided over a global sponsorship programme that included the Benson & Hedges International Open.

At Gallaher: Northridge oversaw significant growth in shareholder value and led the £9.4bn sale of the company in 2007 to Japan Tobacco International. Some analysts questioned the amount of money paid by JTI, but in March of the same year Gallaher Group reported a 9.6% increase in full-year pre-tax profits to £565m, on sales up 2.3% to £8.4bn. Group cigarette volumes also rose 5% to 182.4 billion sticks. At the time, Northridge said the results demonstrated the company’s successful strategy. “I believe the offer reflects Gallaher’s achievements,” he said.

What’s next? Northridge’s business philosophy has always commanded three tenets: ‘keep it simple’, ‘stay accountable’ and ‘make it happen’. The ideology served him well during his time at Gallaher and is one he will no doubt continue to abide by during his time at Debenhams.